The jewel in the crown of the FIA World Endurance Championship is closing in quick. The 90th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours started earlier this week with Scrutineering on Sunday and Monday. Track action begins on Wednesday afternoon and we will be bringing all the action to you live on our social channels throughout the race week. Follow our live race blog after the break.
Updated: 19/06/13 14:30 CET
Most of the TOYOTA Racing team arrived over the weekend in preparation for last Sunday’s Le Mans 24 Hours Scrutineering at Place de la République in the city centre of Le Mans. Both cars and drivers were checked to see if everything from aero parts to race overalls conformed with regulations.
Kazuki Nakajima missed Sunday’s activities as he was just completing his duties for Super GT, completing driver scrutineering on Monday.
Our own Toyota Europe film crew also arrived to film throughout the week. We had a unique chance to take the covers off the cars and bring them out for a film and photo shoot on Monday. Keep an eye out on our channels for our Le Mans 24 Hours documentary and review after the race weekend.
Stéphane Sarrazin spoke to us with a review of the week so far:
On Tuesday, the weather turned as we all waited for a window to open for our official team photograph. Luckily, as we opened the gates between the pit lane and track, the rain held off and we completed our photo mission. Our drivers continued on for a 90 min autograph session in the pit lane with good attendance despite it being a Tuesday.
Here’s Nicolas Lapierre giving us a run down of what’s coming up next:
Updated: 19/06/13 20:10 CET
We finished Le Mans Week’s only Free Practice session in P5 with the # 7 car and P4 with the # 8 car. The session was disrupted by both the weather and stoppages caused by incidents on track. Eventually, the session was abandoned 30min before the scheduled end when the barriers could not be repaired on time.
During the official Le Mans Test two weekends ago, unpredictable weather meant that the entire field ran mostly under wet conditions. The start of today’s Free Practice gave everyone a chance to try out dry set up, basically for the first time.
Wednesday morning saw a massive thunderstorm descend on Circuit de la Sarthe, made worse by the deluge drenching the track and paddocks.
First out on track at the green light were Nicolas Lapierre in the #7 and Sebastien Buemi in the #8. The track kept slippery throughout the first hour before the first red flag fell, putting everything on hold.
Next in the TOYOTA Racing TS030 HYBRID were Alexander Wurz in the #7 and Anthony Davidson in the #8 when the rain fell. Lap times up and down the field remained high as the track quickly picked up more moisture.
The final drivers from each car, Kazuki Nakajima in the #7 and Stéphane Sarrazin in the #8, traded 4th and 5th places as the track dried. Both returned to the garage when the second and final red flag fell which eventually saw the session coming to an early close.
Free Practice Results:
#7 3:30.866 P5
#8 3:29.573 P4
Coming up next is the first of three Qualifying sessions from 22:00-00:00 CET tonight.
Updated: 20/06/13 02:00 CET
The first qualifying session of the race week started as dusk set in over Circuit de la Sarthe. Both cars went out as the lights turned green on the dot of 22:00 CET.
First to take on the track were Kazuki Nakajima in #7 and Stéphane Sarrazin in #8. Track and air temperatures stayed around the mid-20°C mark while humidity increased to nearly 90% as the session ended.
For the second time today, the session was cut short as an incident caused significant damage to 7 metres of barriers. Race Director, Edoardo Freitas, decided that the extent of the damage was too great for the session to continue in safety, calling off the session with some 50min left.
Kazuki started off well going P2 on his first flying lap. All drivers are required to complete five timed laps in during the two night Qualifying sessions, while the grid position is based on the fastest lap time set per car.
Stéphane came in P5 after his first lap while Kazuki improved his time on lap two but dropped to P3.
First set of driver changes saw Nicolas Lapierre take the wheel of #7 and Anthony Davidson getting in the #8. Halfway through the session, #7 was in P4 +4.3s and #8 P6 +8.4s. Our cars kept the same positions and gaps when the session was abandoned.
Just before the session ended, however, Sébastien Buemi took over the #8 but slowed and stopped at the entry to Indianapolis and Arnage.
The exact reason for the stop is yet to be determined. We’ll update this blog when we have more information from the team.
Qualifying 1 Result:
#7 3:26.676 P4
#8 3:30.841 P6
We’ll be back tomorrow for Qualifying 2 from 19:00-21:00 CET. Qualifying 3 follows from 22:00-00:00 CET.